St. Pete woman arrested for death of daughter

Lena Marie Lunsford, Pinellas County Jail booking photo
Lena Marie Lunsford, Pinellas County Jail booking photo
Aliayah Lunsford was reported missing in September of 2011. An age-progression photo is shown at right. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children photos
Aliayah Lunsford was reported missing in September of 2011. An age-progression photo is shown at right. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children photos

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg woman was arrested Thursday for the death of her daughter.

Lena Marie Lunsford, age 34, was arrested at 11:41 a.m. on Thursday on a charge of “death of a child by a parent by child abuse,” according to an affidavit. A warrant for her arrest was issued by authorities in Lewis County, West Virginia.

No other details about the crime have been released. However, WBOY TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia is reporting that Lunsford’s daughter, Aliayah, was 3 years old when she went missing from her home in Weston, WV on September 24, 2011.

Aliayah was last seen wearing purple Dora pajama bottoms, a pink princess sweatshirt and no shoes, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children published an age-progression photo of Aliayah that shows what she would have looked like at the age of five.

The arrest affidavit lists Lunsford as being unemployed. She also goes by the alias Lena Conoway.

News Channel 8 talked with Pastor Greg Miller of the Jackson Mill Baptist Church.

“It’s been just heartwrenching not knowing the situation,” Miller said. “There was always a glimmer of hope that she might be found.”

“I just hope through all this that justice will be done,” he added.

Search organizer Arabelle Butcher wants Lunsford to be in prison for the rest of her life. “I just felt all along that she knew more than she was telling the people. She was the last one to have seen that child,” Butcher said.

Aliayah’s great aunt said Lunsford wasn’t a mother. ““I don’t know how any mother could do this do their child. Lena wasn’t a mother. Lena gave birth,” Vickie Bowen said.

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